Senator Scrutinises Twitter and Alphabet On Data-Sharing with Chinese Companies

    Recently, the New York Times revealed that Facebook entered into agreements with at least sixty (60) mobile device firms, allowing them to have access to the data of Facebook users so that the companies would be able to recreate Facebook-like features. Among those companies are four Chinese companies– Lenovo, Huawei, TCL, and Oppo– which have resulted to some concerns among lawmakers in the United States.

    Today, Mark Warner (D-VA), a senator in the United States, sent letters to both Twitter and Alphabet inquiring as to whether they entered into similar data-sharing agreements with any mobile device firms that are based in China.

    Warner wrote: “Since at least October 2012, when the House Permanent Select Committee on Intelligence released its widely-publicized report, the relationship between the Chinese Communist Party and equipment makers like Huawei and ZTE has been an area of national security concern.”

    He then continues to ask both the companies if they have had agreements in place that are similar to that of Facebook’s and if so, whether any Chinese companies such as ZTE, Huawei, Xiaomi, or Lenovo were included. He also inquires if any information was stored on the servers of those companies, how they vetted firms prior to entering into such agreements, how they audited the activity of their partners and what kinds of legal actions were in place in the event that the companies violated any agreements that involve user information.

    Earlier this week, Ed Markey (D-MA), another US Senator, asked the Senate Foreign Relations Committee to call on Mark Zuckerberg, the Facebook CEO,  before it and question him on the practice of the company. He, together with Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) also sent a letter to Zuckerberg seeking answers to some questions that they had regarding the data-sharing agreements.

    Officials in the United States have warned against the use of the devices of Huawei, citing concerns regarding the connections of the company with the Chinese government, and the Congress has sought to ban agencies in the United States from working with the company.